“He will become a new man”
Regeneration. One of the greatest concepts a show has ever come up with allowing us to follow the adventures of the Doctor for nearly sixty years. Thirteen incarnations (fourteen with the War Doctor) all completely different from one another. The first Doctor was like a Edwardian gentleman who could be quite crotchety sometimes, the second a cosmic hobo, underestimated by the enemy who sometimes showed a darker side.
Or are they? Certainly when the first Doctor first regenerated it was into a young, shorter version. At first it was likened to a renewal, as if the years had been stripped back. But it was clear very soon that this was not just a younger version of the Doctor. It was a different persona. Then it happened again. So the crotchety old man, the cosmic hobo, the Dandy, the bohemian madman, the youthful wonderer, the older crotchety Doctor, the cosmic hobo, underestimated with a darker side.
Already with the classic series we start to see repeats, throwbacks if you like to other previous versions. Some of them are intentional. Both Davison and Baker said they looked towards the first Doctor for inspiration for their Doctors. And the seventh Doctor although starting out very Troughton like developed into a darker version.
I actually began to think about this back in the nineties when I first became a fan. It seemed that after the fifth Doctor the incarnations started to echo earlier incarnations. The sixth was like the first, the seventh like the second.
There was even a theory at the time that the fifth Doctor was actually the thirteenth, based off the events of The Brain of Morbius and completely overlooking Mawdryn Undead. Had some sort of regeneration reset happened? Future Doctors would channel previous incarnations in order. No it’s a stupid theory.
Yet when the TV movie came along in 96 it’s interesting to see the similarities between the eighth and the third. While the young Doctor’s style emulates the firsts to a degree there is a lot in common with the third Doctor and his era starting with the logo itself.
Regenerating from a small mysterious man into a taller striking body, the Doctor ends up in hospital. Awakening he explores the hospital, stealing some clothes from a hospital employee. He manages to leave the hospital by stealing/ stowing away in, a car.
He luckily has assistance from another doctor. It’s not long before another of his race, the Master threatens the Earth. The Doctor and his companion races around on a motorcycle to try and save the day.
Ok they are very superficial similarities but it’s interesting to look at.
When the series returned it seemed that the spell was broken. The ninth Doctor was hardly anything like the fourth. But if the TV movie was a failed pilot and this was a second attempt, learning from the mistakes then what.
So from here in I’m going to look at the similarities between Doctors nine to thirteen compared to Doctors three to seven. Not merely in terms of character but also their era. Sorry it’s taken five hundred words to get here.
The ninth and the third are very different Doctors. A striking dandy working for the military, and a loner alien dressed in a leather jacket. But within the series itself we can find things very reminiscent of the third Doctor era.
For the most part the Doctor’s adventures take place on Earth. Out of ten adventures four take place on modern Earth (if we include Dalek which is set only a few years into the future at the time) and the final although set in the future has scenes set on modern Earth.
Another three are set in the past. And three in the future, End of the World, The Long Game and Bad Wolf/ Parting of the Ways and all three of these take place on a station orbiting the Earth. In short within the TV series itself the ninth Doctor doesn’t visit an alien planet, he is effectively for the most part Earthbound.
In his first adventure he encounters the Autons including an iconic scene of shop dummies bursting through shop windows and gunning people down in the street. His companion for most of his adventures is a young blonde haired girl. But there is also a feeling of a family here as there are regular characters that crop up when the Doctor is on Earth during the modern day adventures. The Doctor himself is considered by the government as an expert in alien encounters.
The tenth Doctor may seem at first to have more in common with the fifth Doctor then the Fourth, especially considering the conversation in Time Crash. However….
The first adventure of this new Doctor takes place on modern Earth. He starts of acting very erratic. Luckily there is someone on hand with a stethoscope to check on his hearts. By the end he’s recovered, more settled down and with his companion(s) takes off for new adventure in time and space. His adventures during this time include Sarah Jane Smith and K9. Gabriel Woolf provides the voice for one of his more powerful foes. Davros appears for the first time in the classic/new series with this Doctor.
Donna in her final adventure gains the Doctor’s brain putting her on the same level as him, almost like a time lady companion of the fourth. There is a sober feel to the final few adventures of this incarnation as he feels his end is coming soon along with a premonition of sorts. (The Watcher/ Four knocks)
His adventures brings an end of an era. Over the course of his time the series has become the most popular it has ever been with the highest ratings, and this incarnation of the Doctor has been the most popular cementing themselves in the minds of many as the iconic version of the Doctor. There is doubt by some that the series might not survive the change, especially in light of the news that….
…….The new Doctor is the youngest actor to date to take on the role. Many wonder if they will be able to bring through the age of the character. The fears are misplaced. The actor is able to play the Doctor as an old man in a young body. During his era he travels with a number of companions at the same time although this returns to the one Doctor, one companion by the end. There is an anniversary story during this time with the Doctor meeting up with previous incarnations in an adventure that involves Gallifrey. In fact it is Gallifreyan technology that allows this to happen. We also have the death of companions during this time.
If anywhere it is the similarities between the sixth and twelve Doctor that are the most striking. Both are showed at first to be uncaring Doctor’s. Note the sixth Doctor’s talk of how alien he is. “I am, in your terms, an alien. I’m therefore bound to have….
In Into the Dalek we have the Doctor talk about Clara. “Yes she’s my career, she cares so I don’t have to.” Over time however he mellows a bit. From notes at the time of the sixth Doctor this was seemingly the plan for his version of the Doctor and its something that has happened with his Big Finish adventures. He has one companion for the majority of his adventures and is extremely upset by her apparent death during an adventure. However it turns out later that she didn’t really die.
From the perspective of the show there is more, both actors playing the Doctor have appeared in a previous story as another character. (Arc of Infinity and Fires of Pompeii) It also does seem during this era of the show that it starts to decline and despite liking the Doctor many feel that a lot of the stories are not doing him justice. There is a feeling that maybe the producer/showrunner has stayed in the job too long and it needs to be refreshed. There is at least a story that teams up the current Doctor with a previous one in a non-anniversary way as they simply cross paths. For the first time in the series run there is a gap year before this Doctor returns for one last series.
Of course as mentioned above there is also a similarity between the sixth and the first Doctor and it’s interesting that the last adventure of the twelfth Doctor also involves the first.
Ok, I really have nothing with the thirteenth Doctor. In fact I’ve made many comments on various social media about how much this series and Doctor reminds me of the fifth Doctor and his era as well as noting points with the first Doctor era. But it is early days with Jodie only having one series under her belt. The first series is followed by a story involving Daleks and she travels with three companions, two males, one female.
However the show itself seems to be suffering. Its run has cut down on the number of episodes it produces a year. Many believe it has had its time and needs a rest and that Jodie could be the last Doctor before the show goes off the air again for a rest.
So the thirteenth Doctor seems to have broken the chain of following previous Doctors, or at least the order of previous Doctors. However the show itself still seems to be following the pattern. But a note of hope to finish. The next two series of the seventh Doctor started to show a return to form with the second series landing on an anniversary year. (The 25th of classic/ the 15th on New) In those days it was too late and the series couldn’t recover. Hopefully the next couple of series will help the series recover some of its former glory. It does feel different this time.
Speaking of endings, this blog was written in the café where many of them have been over the last three years. It is also the last. After three years the café is closing down (27/9/19)
It’s rather sad. It is the place where I wrote my novel, (and started my second) spending many Saturdays typing away armed only with a pot of Assam tea. It was a chance to get away from the distractions of home and concentrate on my writing. During that time I’ve wrote posts from discussing issues from transgender to role models. I’ve spoken about changes in my life as I’ve explored myself and as I head towards new areas of my life it will be sad that this part is over.
So a thanks to Le Petit Hibou, its owners Barry & Jill and all its staff for allowing me to sit here for hours upon end even when closing.